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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : After 'Jekyll & Hyde,' Star Makes One More Change

August 24, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD

Shortly after performing in the demanding dual role of "Jekyll & Hyde" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Robert Cuccioli put his best face--his own--forward at an opening night cast party.

An amiable Cuccioli joined the cast and crew of the musical thriller as well as 150 center supporters and guests for a post-performance bash Tuesday at the Westin South Coast Plaza's Garden Court Restaurant in Costa Mesa. The party was held to salute the cast and thank center supporters and donors.

This Was the Moment

Cuccioli arrived at the Westin by limo, flanked by director Gregory Boyd and the other stars of the show--Linda Eder, who plays Lucy, the prostitute with the powerful voice, and Christiane Noll, Jekyll's lovely fiancee, Lisa.

For Cuccioli, who recently made his Broadway debut as Javert in "Les Miserables," playing the role of the scientist who creates a potion that transforms him into the monstrous Hyde is taxing.

"It's the widest range you could ever play," Cuccioli said. The role calls for Cuccioli to change back and forth on stage between Jekyll and Hyde.

"It took me awhile to make the transitions between the characters smooth," he said.

Eder created the role of Lucy in her theatrical debut at the Alley Theatre in Houston, where an earlier version of the musical made its world premiere in 1990.

"It's a wonderful role. You get to play this great character and sing wonderful songs and be a catalyst between Jekyll and Hyde," she says. Unless she's performing, Eder doesn't like to sing in front of others.

"I sing for the fun of it, but I only sing when I'm alone," she said. "I'm shy."

Someone Like Her

Frank Wildhorn, the musical's composer, stood near Eder--his real-life companion--and explained why he'd rather write music for her than anyone else.

"Linda has my favorite instrument," he said. "I love writing for her. The way she interprets lyrics, her control and power is just amazing."

Wildhorn has composed or collaborated on more than 20 gold and platinum albums including the hit, "Where Do Broken Hearts Go," recorded by Whitney Houston.

He has waited for years for the moment when "Jekyll & Hyde" would tour and make its way to Broadway. After delays and revisions, during which the musical's songs such as "This Is the Moment" and "Someone Like You" became popular, the play began its 34-week pre-Broadway tour in Dallas on Aug. 10.

"I can't do anything more. It's up to [the cast] now," Wildhorn said. "I'm fortunate to hear my music performed by artists like these."

Many playgoers felt fortunate to hear those voices too.

"We couldn't believe these actors--we bought the ['Jekyll & Hyde'] CD during intermission," said Rosie Kuhn, who attended with her husband, David. "People are going to be excited about this play."

Pat Hancock found the musical to be "just as powerful as 'Phantom.' " Her husband, Gene, had his theory about the play's dark message--that evil lurks behind pleasant facades:

"Women think all men have a little Hyde in them," he quipped.

"Jekyll & Hyde" will continue in Orange County until Sunday.

Other guests were Robert Scales, dean of the USC School of Theater; Larry Fuller, the show's choreographer; Joyce Basch; Don Castle; Byron Henderson; Carol Hoffman; Gail Kirwan; Rosemarie Lane; Doug and Ann Myles; Matthew and Lois Osborne; Ann Pange; Linda Pierog; Larry Schenker; Rudolph Schweitzer; Rich Steinhoff, and Susan Strader.

* MUSICAL MIX: "Jekyll & Hyde" seems to have two faces. F1

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